What statistics are available on the growth of Social Golf Clubs?
Does this growth represent a threat or an opportunity?
In the last ten year period, the cumulative loss of golf club members nationally has been 11%. Over the last five years, the member numbers for social golf clubs have increased around 90%. ( Key Findings of Golf Australia’s Golf Club Participation Report 2015). And that is the growth of only those social clubs affiliated with state bodies. This almost doubling of the numbers of social golfers does not include the anecdotally larger numbers of non-affiliated golfers who get together regularly for a hit with a group of their mates.
These social golfers have clearly indicated the traditional golf membership model does not meet their needs- they are seeking more fun, more flexibility, more family involvement, and less regulation and less reliance on golf skills – all at less cost and with less time commitment.
Golf clubs that have traditionally depended on a mix of member subscriptions and green fee revenue from social golfers, have suffered both the loss in member numbers and the loss of margin in green fees due to the proliferation of on-line discounts and coupons.
The clear message is there is an attraction to golf, but not in the traditional model offered by golf clubs. The other message that is about to emerge is that this demand for a socially based golf-related activity will not go unsupplied or under-supplied for much longer. If existing golf clubs and driving ranges don’t satisfy this huge and rapidly expanding demand, new industry participants soon will.
So there is a huge opportunity for what Australian Golf Digest described as the “agile and prescient” club boards and committees, and the obvious threat that the opportunity won’t sit and wait for the slow movers.